Here are some frequently asked questions regarding Charnwood Local Plan 2021-37.

You can also find frequently asked questions about the Charnwood Local Plan 2021-37 consultation, which runs from July 12 until August 23, 2021.

What is a local plan?

The Local Plan is a 15-year strategic document allocating land in Charnwood for homes, employment, retail and infrastructure such as roads and schools. It also maps out protected areas. The Local Plan is referred to when the Council considers whether or not to grant permission for individual developments. It also sets out broader policies relating to the environment, economic regeneration, preservation of heritage and more. All local planning authorities must have a Local Plan.

Preparing a Local Plan involves extensive consultation with stakeholders, including residents and businesses. Evidence is also gathered about the impact of development on the environment, roads and local services such as health and education. Local Plans are examined by independent Government-appointed planning inspectors before being adopted. They are complex pieces of work and often take several years to complete.

What strategy is Charnwood currently using?

The existing Charnwood Local Plan Core Strategy was adopted in November 2015 and provides a development strategy for the borough through to 2028.  The new Local Plan updates the strategy and contains new policies and allocations. It will run from 2021 to 2037. Once adopted, the Local Plan will replace the existing Core Strategy.

The key considerations that have influenced the development strategy for the new Local Plan are concentrating development in urban areas, supporting opportunities for providing homes within our town and local centres, creating the critical mass of development for infrastructure including new schools and protecting our environment including our sensitive landscapes.

What is the difference from the Draft Local Plan?

Charnwood Borough Council published its draft Local Plan for public consultation in 2019. The consultation used a number of methods to consult as many individuals and organisations as possible and gathered comments from a wide range of stakeholders. A total of 434 people and organisations made formal responses to the consultation. In 2020 the Council published a 1,167-page Statement of Consultation which summarised and responded to comments made. Issues raised by respondents included the need for infrastructure to support development, delivery of a sustainable pattern of development, and preservation of the separation of villages.

The updated draft Local Plan has been significantly amended and reflects comments received during the public consultation in 2019, new evidence that the Council has gathered, further dialogue with stakeholders, and changes to Government policy. 

Why is more public consultation required?

The Council is required by legislation to consult on its Local Plan. It also follows good practice in giving the public and other interested parties the opportunity to comment at various stages in the development of the document. The 2019 public consultation considered the Draft Local Plan. The 2021 consultation is the Council presenting its Local Plan in advance of submission to the Planning Inspectorate for independent examination. 

It is important to note that public consultation at this stage will not change the content of the Local Plan which is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate. The draft Local Plan consultation in 2019 was used for that purpose. The 2021 consultation will be an opportunity for stakeholders to comment on the updated Local Plan. Representations about its content will be gathered by the Council during the consultation then submitted to the Planning Inspector for consideration with the Local Plan itself.

Who sets the number of homes to be built?

The Government has a national target of building 300,000 new homes each year. It has a standard methodology which contains a formula for distributing housing need across England. The formula states that Charnwood must build 17,776 homes by 2037. This is equivalent to 1,111 homes each year between 2021 and 2037. This is a slight increase to the 1,082 new homes required by Government at the time of the draft Local Plan. Existing planning permissions (as of 31 March 2021) will provide 2,248 of Charnwood’s required homes but are yet to be built. Once planning permission is granted there is nothing councils can do to force developers to build the agreed homes.

Thousands of house are already planned for the large Sustainable Urban Extension (SUE) developments west of Loughborough (Garendon Park), north of Birstall (Broadnook) and north east of Leicester (Thorpebury). In total there is space for 10,603 new homes already planned in the borough. When also accounting for an additional 10% flexibility to support flow of site delivery (see below), the Local Plan 2021-37 must allocate land for 8,951 further homes to meet the Government target between now and 2037. 

Why is the Council planning for more houses than it needs?

Each year the Council must demonstrate that it has planned or granted planning permission for enough houses to meet housing need for the coming five years. This is known as the five-year housing land supply. Failure to have such a supply of housing land reduces the Council’s control over where development is allowed. This exposes the borough to increased risk of development in unwanted areas. 

To ensure consistency of supply, the Council adds a buffer of 10% on top of the Government requirement. This equals 1,778 homes in Charnwood between 2021 and 2037. This additional supply offers flexibility in case of unforeseen blockages with supply. It means that, with the additional 10% included, the Local Plan 2021-37 must allocate space for 19,461 homes. However, this does not mean that more than 17,776 homes must be built to meet the Government target.

The below table shows a break down of where development in Charnwood is proposed to be located. ‘Housing supply’ refers to development that already has planning permission. ‘Distribution of new homes’ refers to the amount of homes proposed to be allocated by the draft Local Plan.

Settlement

Housing Supply

Distribution of New Homes

Total Homes

Leicester Urban Edge

5,254

2,104

7,358

Loughborough

3,831

2,242

6,073

Shepshed

453

1,878

2,331

Service Centres

928

1,819

2,747

Other Settlements

119

815

934

Small Villages/Hamlets

18

0

18

Total

10,603

8,858

19,461

Why must Charnwood build so many homes?

The borough’s population is increasing. People are living longer, birth rates are exceeding death rates and more people are moving into the borough than leaving it. Changes to how people live their lives are also affecting the need for homes.  For example, if more people live on their own, rather than as couples or families, this will change the number and types of homes that are needed.

Why are most houses being grouped in large developments?

The Local Plan strategy is to intensify and extend existing urban areas. As described above, the Local Plan includes three large existing SUEs. These were part of the previous Local Plan and are large sites which remain a key part of the new strategy for homes and jobs. 

There are further allocations for Shepshed to support its regeneration and role in the Leicestershire International Gateway corridor. This is a large-scale development, as set out in the Strategic Growth Plan for Leicester and Leicestershire, to serve East Midlands Airport, Loughborough University, several large industrial parks and the proposed HS2 rail hub at Toton. 

The Local Plan strategy is to extend and intensify existing urban areas to prevent new pockets of development emerging unplanned in open countryside. As such, it provides a range of development site sizes and locations. This will support delivery. It also provides thousands of homes which are accessible to employment areas.

Further development is planned for larger villages. By grouping 1,819 additional homes at Service Centres (larger villages such as Anstey, Barrow and Sileby), the Council is able to plan for the critical mass required to secure new infrastructure for existing large villages including new schools and roads.

Why do we have to have a Local Plan?

Local Plans are a key component of the planning system. Planning authorities use Local Plans as a strategic guide to show stakeholders what should be built and where. This supports local environmental considerations as well as sustainable investment in infrastructure such as schools and roads. It also balances the pattern of development in the borough. Without a Local Plan, local control would be lost over many individual planning applications. 

How does development fit with the Council’s objective of safeguarding the environment?

Concentration of new development will protect nearly 279 square kilometres of open countryside, including natural open spaces between settlements and green

wedges around the edge of Leicester. The Local Plan will also contain a raft of policies to preserve woodland areas, waterways, air quality and biodiversity. It also gives careful consideration to creating sustainable communities which mitigate risks associated with climate change, including flooding.

How will local schools, roads and health services cope with development?

Infrastructure is considered carefully as part of the Local Plan process. Development of new homes has been allocated to areas with expected high demand for school places. This supports collaboration with partners to build or extend schools. Larger developments will include accessible retail and community facilities. The Council continues to work closely with highways and clinical commissioning groups to assess how to meet strategic need on major road networks and in health services.

How will this infrastructure be funded?

Strategic infrastructure, such as major roads, schools and health centres, is funded through a combination of multi-agency investment and contributions from developers. When large-scale developments are given planning permission, developers are asked to either provide or make contributions towards local infrastructure and services. These provisions are set out in Section 106 legal agreements. Such contributions could add up to around £200m for additional infrastructure and services between 2021 and 2037.

Why does the Council not build the infrastructure first and then build the homes?

The provision of infrastructure, such as schools, major roads and health facilities, is built based upon need. It involves other partner agencies which often have their own strategic plans and needs to meet. Resource management means that the infrastructure will be provided once need is demonstrated. For example, to fund a new primary school a critical mass of at least 700 new homes is required to create the necessary number of students to support the new school. As described above, the Council issuing permission for planning does not always mean that developers will go on to build homes.

What does the Local Plan do about jobs?

Economic growth is a key objective of the Council. The Local Plan has a strategy to meet the need for employment land. This includes provision for 81 hectares of employment land for office and general industrial use. Eleven sites are proposed to be allocated for employment purposes, including sites linked to the three sustainable urban extensions, Dishley Grange, Watermead Business Park and others. The Local Plan allocates 73 hectares for the extension of Loughborough University Science and Enterprise Park. Rural economic development will be generally supported through a specific policy which will include support to enable farm diversification and the conversion of existing buildings.

Why do we need to allocate more sites when the big SUE developments are yet to be built?

The three sustainable urban extensions to the west of Loughborough (Garendon Park), north of Birstall (Broadnook) and north east of Leicester (Thorpebury) will provide 8,355 new homes between now and 2037.  These sites will meet a large proportion of the identified housing need. However, council data shows that the number of houses contained in the SUEs, even when added to planning commitments already made for 2,248 homes in other parts of the borough, will still not be sufficient to meet the housing need identified by the Government plus the additional 10%. Therefore, the Local Plan allocates further sites to provide the remaining 8,951 homes.

How were the further sites allocated?

Sites are primarily allocated in line with the urban intensification and extension strategy described above. It should also be remembered that land must be available for development. In addition to this are considerations relating to neighbourhood planning, need for infrastructure and environmental considerations.

Why can’t we build more on brownfield sites?

There are 22 brownfield sites identified for housing development in the Local Plan. The Development Strategy will support applications which make efficient use of brownfield sites and buildings. The Local Plan is focussed on limiting the need for greenfield development. However, evidence from a number of studies has shown that there are not enough brownfield sites to meet the identified housing need. This means that allocations on greenfield sites must also be found.

Greenfield Sites

Brownfield Sites

Total

Leicester UA

8

6

14

Loughborough

5

10

15

Shepshed

10

3

13

Service Centres

14

2

16

Other Settlements

10

1

11

Total

47

22

69

Won’t building more houses increase the risk of flooding?

The Local Plan is designed to work with nature to manage risk, increase resilience and maintain a sustainable environment. Development has been directed to areas with lowest risk of flooding. Strict rules have been put in place to ensure all new developments do not cause flooding problems and, in some cases, lower risk. Natural counterbalances such as Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) will manage rainwater flows and provide benefits for wildlife. Wetlands and pond systems have been identified. New buildings will be required to be designed to adapt to future weather extremes which may result from climate change.

How is increased need for affordable housing being addressed?

The Local Plan recognises the borough’s pressing need for provision of affordable housing. This is particularly the case in rural areas. Policy states that 30% of homes should be affordable on major developments. The threshold will be 10% on brownfield sites to encourage regeneration. The Local Plan has a clear focus on the need for a range of types and tenures of homes. This will meet changing social need. Extra care housing will also be required to support the ageing population.

What difference will my comments make and what will happen next?

The Local Plan will be published on 27 May 2021 in a report which will be considered by Cabinet on 10 June 2021 and then go before Council. There will then be a public consultation of at least six weeks from July 2021. Once the public consultation concludes, the Local Plan will be submitted to the Secretary of State to be referred for independent public examination led by an independent Planning Inspector. If approved, the Local Plan will inform decisions about future development in Charnwood up to 2037.

How does the Charnwood Local Plan take account of the City of Leicester’s growth plans?

We have been working closely with Leicester City Council to assess the cumulative impacts of both of our proposed plans for growth and to ensure that infrastructure is coordinated, for example the provision of new schools and healthcare. Leicester City Council consulted on their draft Local Plan in late 2020.

You can view the draft Local Plan, strategic sites and non-strategic sites for Leicester at https://consultations.leicester.gov.uk/sec/draft-local-plan/]. Scroll to the bottom of this weblink to download/view these documents.

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The draft plan sets out how the Council will balance future growth in the area while making sure the environment is looked after and communities have the infrastructure they need.

Last updated: Mon 12th July, 2021 @ 10:53